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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Humble Bean

Few foodstuffs have held so much delicious potential while being so often derided, or at best misunderstood. Fresh in the summer, dried all year long, capable of innumerable gastronomic roles, the humble bean deserves, for once in its life, the spotlight.

Tonight I don't even soak the dried cranberry beans. Just tip them into a pot, cover with abundant water, and let gently bubble down a lazy river toward a place called delicious. The one necessary ingredient with dried beans is time; anything above the occasional bubble means too much heat, and will end in a mush of starchy bean skins. Keep it low, though, and just wait, and you will invariably end up with a flavorful broth swimming with capsules of succulence. Think I'm exaggerating? Try it yourself.

This time I sweated some diced onion and garlic, added the cooked beans with their liquid, folded in a handful of baby spinach, and finished with a quick steep of a rosemary sprig and a generous splash of good olive oil.

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